"Texture" Show Engages the Senses

"Texture" show at Austin's Russell Collection gallery promises a sensory experience

Russell Collection gallery's "Texture" exhibit engages senses

Brad Ellis artwork The Rounder
The Rounder, Brad Ellis Courtesy of The Russell Collection
JD Miller artwork Arctic Dream
Arctic Dream, JD Miller Courtesy of The Russell Collection
Arts_Russell_Brad_Ellis_Ribbon_Study_September_2013
Ribbon Study, Brad Ellis Russell Collection website
Arts_Russell_Cody_Hooper_Brahms_Music_September_2013
Brahms Music, Cody Hooper Russell Collection website
Arts_Russell_JD_Miller_Cobalt_Melody_September_2013
Cobalt Melody, JD Miller Russell Collection website
Arts_Russell_Cody_Hooper_Red_Earth_September_2013
Red Earth, Cody Hooper Russell Collection website
Brad Ellis artwork The Rounder
JD Miller artwork Arctic Dream
Arts_Russell_Brad_Ellis_Ribbon_Study_September_2013
Arts_Russell_Cody_Hooper_Brahms_Music_September_2013
Arts_Russell_JD_Miller_Cobalt_Melody_September_2013
Arts_Russell_Cody_Hooper_Red_Earth_September_2013

“Texture,” the latest exhibit at the Russell Collection Fine Art Gallery, promises to be a full sensory experience. Canvases filled with watercolors, wax and 3-D sculptural oils will line the walls at the expansive West Sixth Street gallery in a show that starts this weekend and runs through October 31. Featuring the work of two Dallas-based artists, JD Miller and Brad Ellis, and New Mexico-based artist Cody Hooper, the show is based on a concept that Lisa Russell, owner of the Collection, says was "kind of like an everflowing, spontaneous decision.” With the three artists she wanted to feature already in mind, Russell says she began examining their work and thought, "Oh, my god — I should have a show called 'Texture.'” 

Russell, whose gallery represents the masters — featuring more than 100 original works from as far back as the 1600s — as well as a dozen contemporary artists, explains that every single one of her shows is different from the others. “Texture” is about color, abstractness and expanding our senses. Photographs of the pieces don’t do the paintings justice, she says: "When you’re in front of any one of these three artists, it’s a visual — and, I want to say, a sensory — experience.”

“Texture” is about color, abstractness and expanding our senses. 

Take Miller’s pieces, which combine chromatic expression with 3-D sculptural oils into multidimensional images that seem almost to drip off the canvas. Looking at them, as Russell describes it, makes you “really badly want to go and touch the painting and see if it’s still wet, because it’s coming off the canvas so much.”

Ellis gives the exhibit texture in huge format, creating large-scale pieces from encaustic pant. Using torches to melt wax and combining it into collages with oil paint, he creates enormous, mixed-material work. It's a labor-intensive and sometimes tedious process; the artist often spends weeks creating a single piece. The result engages us in a bold way, drawing the eye to wisps of color and sporadic patterns. 

Like Miller, Hooper — who comes from a watercolor background and draws his inspiration from nature — uses unorthodox tools and methods to bring out multiple layers of texture in his work. Paper towels, ink rollers, spray bottles and alcohol all go into creating depth in Hooper’s pieces, which are rough and layered, often hiding bursts of lights beneath the surface. Hooper seeks richness in each of his pieces, a quality he thinks sets his work apart. “My pieces have a lot of discovery,” he says, “a lot of hidden things — peeks of light coming out. The dynamics of the art tell a story.” 

“Texture” opens Saturday, September 28, with an artists' reception 6-9 pm at the Russell Collection Fine Art Gallery. An RSVP is requested for the opening reception, which will feature appearances by the artists and signed art for acquisition. If you can't make it on Saturday, simply swing by the gallery (Tuesday-Saturday, 10 am-6 pm) to experience the exhibit, which runs through October 31.

And if you’re looking to engage your senses on an even deeper level, the Art Bites event on October 10 will feature Austin’s top chefs creating tastes based on pieces of art from the Russell Collection, including the “Texture” exhibit. Buy your tickets here.